by Mary McCarthy

Out of the stars, radio waves
Like ripples emitted
Across waters, a weak signal
Over the Atlantic, first message
From the Mizen, thanks to Marconi.

A capital secret of talent prized like a gold cup,
From his disquiet came the wireless,
Sound messages in the kitchen
Like how do you do?
This man ushered change in the ether.

It is the war years, the radio
Brings news and music,
Powered by two batteries, wet and dry.
Dry batteries costing a half crown to charge,
And 17 shillings and 6 pence to buy at a bicycle shop.

I never imagined a radio,
Sized of the TVs of tomorrow,
Taking a minute or two to heat up,
Its aerial – higher than the house
On the eaves shoot carrying wire to the kitchen.

That time, broadcasts are fifteen minutes long,
Run from dinnertime to 10pm,
Adverts sponsored by companies.
I hear football matches on a Sunday, mad to know
Who’s winning the All-Ireland Final is on in September.

In the wild expanse of home,
Conversation passes to and fro
About the latest on The News at 6pm or 9pm
Of this fallen world, its danger and its darkness,
Transmission possesses the stuff of story.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at Cork City Library in September, 2022. The workshops were led by poet Thomas McCarthy.